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Poetry General


by (author) Michael McClure

foreword by Paul E. Nelson

Initial publish date
Apr 2012
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2012
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Widely noted for the popularity of his dynamic performances, Michael McClure has been celebrated since his first poetry event. At twenty-two years old, in San Francisco’s legendary Six Gallery, McClure, Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg gave their first poetry reading—Ginsberg read “Howl? that night. McClure’s writing followed his deepening environmental awareness and biological studies, and he became an outspoken advocate, through his essays, music, theatre and novels, for the protection of all living beings.

When McClure’s Specks was first published in 1985 by Talonbooks, it was a revelation in terms of its transcending the proprioceptive poetic methodology of Charles Olson and entering an Aristotelian realm of metaphysical questions that alchemically combined matters both scientific and mystical. In this much-anticipated return, with incisive and bombastic projective verse, McClure’s stance in the face of futurity is even more topical, as the senses of the physical-poetic body explore its properties, powers and limitations, expanding forth as the benevolent love child of its own consciousness.

Specks assumes the form of a blastula, offering a poetic model of embryonic development that arises from the cellular division known as “cleavage.? Specks presents groupings of ideas that mimic and challenge one another in a deep biological state. With mind aglow in recognition of muscular imagination and the intelligence of the sensorium in all its unapologetic tonality, McClure’s luminous journey leaps with the grace of Muhammad Ali and Fred Astaire, and tempts the reader into the mysterious abyss of dark energy that Federico García Lorca callsduende.

About the authors

Michael McClure is a novelist, musician, playwright and poet who came to prominence in the 1950s as a central figure of the beat generation. McClure’s recent books are Of Indigo and Saffron: New and Selected Poems (University of California Press, 2010) and Mysteriosos and Other Poems (New Directions, 2010). He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, an Obie Award for Best New American Play, a Rockefeller Grant for Playwriting, the Josephine Miles Literary Award and the Alfred Jarry Award. He has written more than twenty plays, which are regularly performed in the United States and abroad. The notorious The Beard became a touchstone for anti-censorship lobbyists when its first performances in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 1965 were raided by police and the actors charged with obscenity.

Michael McClure often performs his poetry with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek accompanying on piano. The pair have worked together on several albums. McClure has also collaborated with composer Terry Riley; their recent album is I Like Your Eyes Liberty. McClure wrote the pop song “Mercedes Benz? with Janis Joplin and beat poet Bob Neuwirth. He is married to the sculptor Amy Evans McClure.

Michael McClure's profile page

Paul E. Nelson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

?McClure’s poetry is a blob of protoplasmic energy.?
—Allen Ginsberg

?McClure’s poetry and prose is one of the more remarkable achievements in recent American literature.?
—Times Literary Supplement

“Tourné vers la science, les atomes, la biologie et le corps, McClure chemine et analyse le réel à l’aide de son regard unique. Ses poèmes plongent le lecteur dans des réflexions profondes. Il faut lire ce recueil ainsi que l’œuvre complète de ce poète associé à la Beat Generation.”
Canadian Literature